CLAYTON — “We have great things to look forward to from these young men and women,” Superintendent Bill Derringer told those in attendance at Tri-County North High School’s graduation ceremony last Thursday, May 30.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s been 13 years ago that I took over as superintendent of Tri-County Local Schools. So I’ve had the pleasure of watching this class grow and mature in those 13 years. It has also been a pleasure to watch this class take the lead in organizations at school, in athletics, in their churches, and in community groups. I have been impressed by their desire to give of themselves so that others may be better equipped to deal with the challenges of life,” Derringer continued. “This class not only presents its self with academic, artistic and athletic talent, they come to us with dedication to serve each other and their community.”
Tri-County North’s 82 graduating seniors were celebrated during commencement exercises held at Salem Church of God in Clayton.
“Guys, we finally made it,” Salutatorian Mary Grace Toth told her fellow students. “As we approach the next chapter in our lives we shouldn’t forget about all that we have here. Remember how it felt when you played your first varsity game and also remember how it felt when you played your last. Remember when you got the role you always wanted in the school play. Remember all the good times and all the bad, because without all those times you wouldn’t be who you are today.
“This new chapter we are heading into is scary and exciting all at the same time. But always remember where you came from and what helped you get to where you are today,” Toth continued. “Tri-County North has been a part of all of your lives and we shouldn’t just forget about it now that we’re moving on. I am proud to say that I am part of this class. We made it through high school together. This might be the last time some of us see each other for a while, so make you last moments count.”
Seven members of the graduating class were recognized as co-valedictorians: Madison Cox, Riley Cruse, Mason Dreischarf, Sean Finnigan, Megan Herbert, Tessah Knisley and Kimberly Stacey.
“First and foremost, thank you to every single person that has helped get me to this exact moment in time,” Cox said. “Thank you a million times over. You believed in me from the start and I am more than ready to take the world by storm no matter where I end up. My name, hopefully, will go down in history thanks to all of your efforts no matter how big or small of an impact was made.”
Cruse reminded her classmates nothing is permanent.
“The questions we have been asked the most these past four years is what do you want to be after high school and what are you future plans?”Cruse said. “Whether you know what you want to do or not, nothing is permanent. We can change our minds and change them again because this a time to figure out who we are and explore everything life has to offer. Life will carry us in many different directions and we may not know exactly where we are going or what the outcome will be but never give up on trying to do what you really want. Whatever you do, do it with a passion of love and you will never go wrong.
“Now at the end of our high school career we have the opportunity to take on the world and to pursue our passions,” Cruse continued. “We have the opportunity to take the skills we have learned and work towards creating the life we have always wanted. Today marks the end the chapter but not the end of story. We will continue to write our story while looking back on our past and remembering all of the good times we have had with our fellow classmates in this community.”
“I’ve changed a lot since middle school and all that. I guess we all have,” Finnigan said. “Back in middle school I really didn’t do all that much. Mostly, stayed aside, sat around and played video games. Nerd stuff. Never really had any idea what I wanted to do with my life. My sister, who told me to refer to her as ‘amazing’ in my speech, would always joke that I would end up living in our parents’ basement. We don’t even have a basement. But I’ve come along way since then. I’m still a massive nerd, but you get the point, I go outside — sometimes.
“I’ve become who I am today, mostly, because of my friends around me,” he added. “I cannot give enough credit to how much my friends have shaped my life.”
“As we sit here, we asks ourselves, how did we get here?” Herbert noted. “While there are no definitive answers there are some important aspects that helped us. From our parents pushing us to be the absolute best we can be. To the teachers and staff who continuously go the extra miles to see us succeed. From those who grew up in broken homes where some days were better than others or those with aggravating older siblings that made lasting impressions on their teachers because they slept in their class and the teacher believes they’ll do the same. And those, who may not have known each other their whole lives, but have created an unbreakable bond. Like the ones who call you mom, because in a way, they really are your kids.”
“Although, we all have our differences, there’s one definitive thing we have in common – we never gave up,” Herbert continued. “We fought to be sitting in these seats and to receive a diploma. As we walk down the aisles today we will no longer be high school students. We will be athletes, musicians, actors, engineers and teachers. But we will remain in each others hearts for its impossible to forget such a large part of our lives. We walk out different men and women — better men and women — all because the people before us, next to us and behind us.
“We’ve made it to the second biggest step of our life. The first is surviving your older brother’s WWE phase or math — both equally challenging,” she quipped.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH